Disasters, Queer Narratives, and the News: How Are LGBTI Disaster Experiences Reported by the Mainstream and LGBTI Media?

06 December 2019

The media plays a significant role in constructing the public meanings of disasters and influencing disaster management policy. In this article, we investigate how the mainstream and LGBTI media reported—or failed to report—the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) populations during disasters in Brisbane, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand. The implications of our work lie within recent disasters research suggesting that marginalized populations—including LGBTI peoples—may experience a range of specific vulnerabilities during disasters on the basis of their social marginality. In this article, we argue that LGBTI experiences were largely absent from mainstream media reporting of the Brisbane floods and Christchurch earthquake of 2011. Media produced by and about the LGBTI community did take steps to redress this imbalance, although with uneven results in terms of inclusivity across that community. We conclude by raising the possibility that the exclusion or absence of queer disaster narratives may contribute to marginality through the media’s construction of disasters as experienced exclusively by heterosexual family groups.